The emergence of new technologies, including services based on mobile applications, is changing the way the food industry operates, and is giving rise to a new digital industry, known as food technology. Innovations that meet growing consumer demands for comfort, product freshness and environmental sustainability are set to define the sector’s future.
The idea of Cook My Grub was conceived in December 2019 by entrepreneurs, Shabbir Mukhtar and Dinesh Patel when they discovered a gap in the market for home-cooked foods that could be easily delivered to people’s homes via a mobile app.
Customers can choose from a wide range of cuisines from home chefs who have created their own “virtual restaurants” and have peace of mind knowing their food meets the standards of the Food Authority.
Previously, both founders worked in senior management positions in the corporate world. Both had young families and busy lives and as a result, they faced challenges preparing fresh meals at home.
Mokhtiar says: “At the 2019 Christmas Eve party, we were talking about some of the local home chefs who cook and sell food in the neighbourhood. They are highly rated by many of our friends and also serve up very authentic ethnic cuisine, only available in select regions of India” .
That was their Eureka moment. After securing an initial angel investment from friends, they spent nine months developing products and experimenting before launching their service. When sales started to pick up, they launched a crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its target by 250% and raised £750,000.
The app has 10,000 users and more than 400 chefs trading on the platform or in the setup. “As part of our cleanliness promise, every new chef is trained in allergy awareness and hygiene level 2, and is supported by registration with the local council,” Mokhtiar says.
German startup HIER provides an app that enables grocers and stores to handle purchases from all their local suppliers in one place instead of having to call them individually or email them. Founded in 2019 by Lara Hämmerle and Mark Jäger, it connects food suppliers and retailers on the same platform.
“Not only do we put local food trade on par with the efficiency of global procurement, but we also provide a more resilient supply chain, which is critical, given the increasingly frequent shocks we face in global agriculture and logistics,” says CEO Hammerley.
The founders recognized early on that many food technology companies are B2C companies focused on delivering food to a small percentage of people who live in urban areas and can afford the delivery options. “This is not a scalable market,” Hammerl says. “About 95% of people buy their food from brick-and-mortar food sales. We realized that the best way to achieve results was to offer them fresh, local food.”
The project was previously funded by VCs Pale Blue Dot, Speedinvest, Entrepreneur First, and Yes VC. On the demand side, HIER works with independent grocers within large German cooperatives as well as specialty grocers such as bakeries and butchers, and on the supply side with a variety of suppliers, including fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages.
Garden’s Remote Sensing Technology, founded in 2020, aims to empower food producers by monitoring and providing insights into plant health versus the growing environment to reduce waste and make growing food more sustainable.
The company’s full-stack solution is designed to measure physiological traits of plant crops such as photosynthetic activity, biotic and abiotic stress and nutrient density, while driving correlations between plant and crop physiology and the growth environment, enabling food producers to make meaningful interventions. Exactly when needed.
The company was founded by businessman Sumanta Talukdar. As a food lover, he tried to grow his own products, but with poor results. He was frustrated that he couldn’t grow great vegetables at home, when NASA could grow fresh produce in space.
He reached out to some academics in the field to learn more about the technology out there and discovered that the problem was shared not only by amateur farmers, but throughout the food industry. This became Gardin’s task, which is to introduce the phenotype of plants far away from the food supply chain.
Gardin has received seed funding from LDV Capital, Seedcamp and MMC Ventures along with Angel investors and is one of 32 climate technology companies selected and supported by Tech Nation’s Net Zero Growth Program.
Launched in 2019, ShelfNow is an online B2B marketplace that bridges the gap between smaller, high-quality food and beverage producers and independent buyers in the hospitality and retail sectors.
The company was founded by CEO Philip Lenardos and COO Sajid Ghani. “The UK wholesale food and beverage sector is huge, the EU alone has sales of over €100 billion, with small businesses accounting for around 50% of that revenue,” says Lenardos.
After discussions with hundreds of companies, it has become clear that both small and medium food brands and buyers lack the time and resources to research and make direct sales and purchases. “Instead, they relied on traditional brokers that are overpriced, ineffective, and lack transparency,” says Lenardos.
The founders created a smart B2B platform that harnesses data science technologies and market trading efficiency to help producers and buyers trade as directly as possible while lowering costs and enabling buyer-seller relationships to establish. The company handles all payments, invoices and fulfillment, which reduces the time spent by the administrator.
At first they were self-financed by the founders, and later they got funding from angel investors, pooling three times from several small strategic angels. The larger seed round is currently in progress.